Using statistics can can improve clinical trials and outcomes – Dimitris Bertsimas

MIT Sloan Professor Dimitris Bertsimas

MIT Sloan Professor Dimitris Bertsimas

From Times Higher Education 

Sometimes science can be personal. When my father, who was living in Greece at the time, was diagnosed with stage IV gastric cancer in 2007, I set out to find the best possible care for him. As is the case with many patients with advanced disease, drug therapy was his best course. So, after unsuccessful surgery in Greece, he came to the US for treatment.

I contacted the most prestigious cancer hospitals in the country and found that they all used different drugs in different treatment regimens to treat advanced gastric cancer. As both a son and a scientist, I was surprised to discover that there was no standard treatment – something I would later realise was true of many different kinds of late-stage cancers.

My family and I were therefore left without a good way to make treatment decisions. As a result, I was forced to do a kind of back-of-the-envelope calculation. Based on the small number of published findings I could locate, I plotted different drug combinations on a curve, seeking to discover the sweet spot between the estimated survival period given by the chemotherapy treatment and the expected toxicity of the treatment.

Read the full post at Times Higher Education 

Dimitris Bertsimas is the Boeing Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management, a Professor of Operations Research, and the CoDirector of the Operations Research Center at MIT.

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